The Ad Review Council (ARC), a sub-unit of the ESRB, has directed Atlus U.S.A. to withdraw a video trailer for its action RPG Samurai Western. On August 19th a representative of Atlus, U.S.A. contacted media outlets by e-mail with the following message:
"Dear Member of the Media,
If you have posted the Samurai Western (PlayStation 2) trailer on your website we please ask that you remove it from your respective websites immediately as it does not adhere to the ARC's Principles and Guidelines."
Apparently the extra-violent trailer, which included lots of spraying blood in addition to multiple beheadings, ran afoul of ARC standards, which say, in part, "No advertisement should contain any content that is likely to cause serious or widespread offense to the average consumer."
A follow-up with the Atlus rep confirmed that the ESRB contacted Atlus and that the company was "trying to comply with their request to either age-gate or remove the trailer completely..." Samurai Western was released for the PS2 on June 7th* to mediocre reviews.
For its part, the ESRB, as usual, would not comment on the specifics of its enforcement actions. The ARC, however, does impose strict marketing and advertising guidelines by which publishers are legally required to abide.
EDITOR'S NOTE: It's great to see the system work. It would be even better if the ESRB would lift the veil of secrecy.
* Coincidentally, June 7th is the same date that the PC version of GTA: San Andreas was released containing the now-infamous Hot Coffee scenes.